Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Thursday
Jan152015

Zen Retreat Redux: Sit. Stay.  

I didn't see it coming.  

Unlike the high drama and torture of last year, this zen retreat was relatively uneventful, which is to say it was a veritable cauldron of long-forgotten demons, physical pain, boredom, and large helpings of bliss.   Nothing special.  So, when I came home I was surprised to discover vast swaths of freedom in my life where previously there were tiny little congested closets.

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Saturday
Jan102015

Is Birdman Pretending?

Even before I saw Birdman, a Facebook debate captured my attention.   One avid intellectual questioned why another would call a movie pretentious if it aspires to be arty rather than sensational.  My first attempt to see it was foiled by a sold-out house, but finally I managed to score a seat.  Already by the opening sequence--so beautiful and evocative--I felt little bubbles of happiness, and then the sight of Michael Keaton's naked back, levitating while meditating, was strangely moving.

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Monday
Dec152014

Black Lives Matter

My heart filled with hope when I witnessed this march, both because of the energetic young black leadership and because of the honesty and participation of white folk.  sorry I didn't realize I could turn my new iphone sideways, but still...

Thursday
Oct022014

Demons and Death.  @clown

It's not all fun and games.  That ridiculous clown up there making us laugh has an inner life too, and sometimes it hurts.  In a profound and quite enjoyable workshop with master clown René Bazinet, the topic of demons popped up.  Rewarded for their failures, applauded for their most embarrassing moments, clowns are reinforced for roughly the opposite of what is normal behavior. For those who lap up attention and approval (are there really performers who don't?), such conditions can produce some mighty twisted stuff.  Amy G, photo by Ian DarsonSo in performances that invite intimacy and truth, we are sure to see clown innards

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Tuesday
Sep232014

Purpose and Politics

My Honeymoon in Chernobyl, photo by Ian DarsonDo clowns have a purpose?  Those of you who are old enough may understand what happens as you begin to glimpse mortality.On occasion at least, the inclination to cling to this narrow self drops away and we begin to consider what we transmit to the ever-changing world in which we have such a teeny cameo.  Whether or not we plan it, we do transmit, and so it is with clowns, but some use the platform to show us something important.

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Tuesday
Sep162014

Truth! What is it?

Clockwise from Left: La Cita (photo by Melibea Garavito), Giovanni (photo by Craig Behenna), Red Bastard (photo by Justin Bernhaut), Almost Definitely (photo by Julianna Rusakiewicz)
"It's not as big as I thought," observed the clown after he stripped.  This was the second time in one weekend I was treated to a naked penis on stage (no, I will not tell you which performances; it's a surprise).  What better way to reveal powerlessness beneath bravado?  It's a theme I've seen again and again in the NY Clown Theatre Festival,

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Thursday
Sep112014

For the Love of Clowns

Love and War.  What else is there?  Ok, there are dishes to do, so we can stop and think about love, or war, or the love of war, or the war of love.  Freud famously obsessed about sex and aggression, even when all those other stressed-out Victorians tried not to notice.  Civilization depends on good manners, so you can be sure that the clown, who treads where ordinary humans are too polite to go, will usually be mucking around in love or war, or both together.  In my last post, I extolled the virtues of "Fuck You!" in freeing the clown to play.  But...Love.  Love is what powers the clown.  Love is why the clown meets the audience, well mostly, anyway.

Poofy du VeyIn the marvelous Burden of Poof, the shimmeringly vulnerable Poofy du Vey expresses her struggle with her longing for love.  As she goes into the audience to find helpers, we can see she is both terrified and compelled to connect.  Don't we often make neat little systems to contain screamingly undefinable important matters?  Poofy makes a touching to-do list, containing perfectly normal tasks, and,

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Tuesday
Sep092014

Failure and Freedom

Lisa AltomareFinally, the clown took stock, gathered herself, and delivered the message to the teacher:  fuck you.

I gasped, then exhaled to partake in the laughter.  "More of that," said the teacher, and the clown delivered:  "FUCK YOUUU!!"...middle finger in full salute, body crouched, shaking with rage and pride, she expressed the truth of her experience, and it was absolutely hilarious.

It was the first day of the weekend workshop with Caroline Dream, master clown teacher, and we were playing games.Caroline, with class 

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Monday
Sep012014

PsychoZen of Clown

Nightmare, Brick Theatre, January 2013Why is it that I love clowns so thoroughly and yet so many of my friends tell me they fear and loathe them?   Ok, I understand that they look ridiculous, do silly things, and sometimes embarrass the audience, but scary??  loathsome??? 

Lumping all the clowns together for now (even if they don’t like each other’s company), I include circus clowns, theatrical clowns, tricksters and jokers, court jesters with surprising insights, various imbeciles, happy-birthday-party clowns, bouffons, and provocative wise fools.   All these characters have a way of breaking the rules that we so carefully follow. 

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Tuesday
Jul292014

Seeing Kara Walker's Subtlety

A brilliant and articulate volunteer guides us through interpretations of “A Subtlety, or The Marvelous Sugar Baby" and the public reaction.  I hope you can forgive the limits of the iphone4.  As a friend and collaborator says often, the best camera is the one you have on hand.  I just had to share what I learned from this installation, all melted and destroyed now, at the former Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn.